Race Report 1997
Hino Raising Ranger finishes 1st, 2nd & 3rd for the first time ever!
1997 - DAKAR-AGADES-DAKAR
The TEAM RANGER HINO organization was further strengthened and three Rising Rangers with greater competitive capabilities were introduced with the aim of realizing the long-desired goal of becoming the overall champion in the Camion category. The drivers were selected based on their passion for victory. "Stable and secure" Yoshimasa Sugawara, who had the most Camion class entries of anyone in Japan and boasted of a 100% completion rate in that class, was selected to drive truck no. 1. "Speedy" J-P. Reif, who had been involved in the development of rally vehicles from early on in the competition and who demonstrated a bold style of attack when behind the wheel, was named to drive truck no.2. "Hard working" J. Petit, who had driven the Ranger in 1991 and 1992 and who had earned the strong trust of the team for his perfect support, was chosen to drive the third truck, which had a support role, thus bringing a fully-appointed organization into shape. In addition, Takeshi Hashimoto, an employee of Hino Motors, also rode in the third truck for the first time.
Since the route started in Dakar, the first attempt in the history of the Paris-Dakar Rally, and then returned again to Dakar after reaching Agades, it consisted primarily of bush areas with plentiful tree groves. There was therefore no hope of a technical victory on sand dunes but, rather, it was easier to link vehicle performance with the ranking. The TEAM RANGER HINO, which thus started with a rock-solid organization, suffered its worst problem unbelievably on the very first day. The first truck, which had been making good time at the lead of the class in the early phase, was brought to a halt when an abnormal increase in water temperature was noticed. It dropped far back to twelfth place due to the loss of the radiator shroud cover. The other two trucks experienced similar conditions and, from the first day, the mechanics were forced to work until far into the night. Even so, the Rangers with remedies devised by the team members working hand in hand recorded a series of excellent times from the second day on with close attention paid to the water temperature. The second truck recorded the top time on successive days and, by the fifth day, January 9, it finally ranked at the top overall while the first and third trucks rose, respectively, to fourth and fifth place. In the end, Agades, the midway and turnaround point, was reached with truck no. 2 in the lead followed by truck no. 3 in third place and truck no. 1 in fourth.
Even after the start of the second half, the Hino team, charging ahead smoothly with the first and second trucks finishing in first and second place, were blessed by the angle of the Paris-Dakar Rally. On January 14, the Loprais Tatra Team, their strongest rival positioned in second place, dropped out the frontline with engine problems, finally establishing a 1-2-3 lineup. The three trucks continued to press forward and, on January 19, the three trucks appeared at Lac Rose in Dakar with the Hino flag brandished high in the air. The 1-2-3 finish by the Hino team, the first such win by the same team in the Camion category, was one of the most tremendous feats in the history of the rally. This was, of course, the first victory in the Camion category by a Japanese vehicle and the 1-2-3 finish in the under 10-liter class was a victory that adorned the rally records.
"TEAM RANGER HINO"
General supervisor: Katsutoshi Murosaki
Supervisor: Masashi Shigemori
1st truck: Yoshimasa Sugawara, Katsumi Hamura, Naoko Matsumoto
2nd truck: J-P. Reif, J. Deinhofer (Austria)
3rd truck: J. Petit (Belgium), Takeshi Hashimoto, J-C. Wagner (France)
Air mechanics: Total 23 including Yukinori Kiyono (chief), Yoshimitsu Yaguchi, Hideaki Takatori, Yasushi Nakamura, Motohiro Aoshima (Shizuoka Hino) and Yoshimasa Nishibayashi (Kyoto-Shiga Hino)
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